Suspicious fires at car dealerships

March 31, 2008 3:49:23 PM PDT
Police in South Jersey are investigating a string of suspicious fires on the lots of three car dealerships. Police in 3 towns are working together to try and determine who may be responsible for 3 car dealership fires over the weekend all along Route 73. They don't know for certain if the 3 are related, but it certainly appears to be more than coincidence.

27 vehicles were destroyed by fire at Chevrolet 73 in Berlin Boro. The blaze was spotted by passing motorists and fire officials say there were 3 separate areas of the lot burning.

Berlin Fire Chief Lt. Paul Miller tells Action News, "It was very volatile. We had a lot of hazards. We had fuel tanks that were rupturing and going off. We had air bags that were exploding."

The vehicles destroyed were pre-owned. General Manager Richard Pepe says there have been occasional cases of minor vandalism in the past but nothing likes this. He says, "We were very fortunate that the spot fire did not move towards the building, in which case we would have had 70 to 80 employees this morning looking for work."

This was the 3rd and most devastating dealership fire to occur over the weekend. At about 10:00 Saturday night 3 vehicles were set ablaze at Elkins Chevrolet, also on Route 73 in Marlton. Virtually at the same time 3 vehicles were lost to fire at Holman Ford, which is also on Route 73 in mount Laurel. 2 other vehicles were damaged.

Michael Elkins of Elkins Chevrolet is concerned. "Senseless, you know? Then I learned this morning when I came in that the dealership down the road had a lot more cars lost in a fire. So, it's very weird."

All three dealerships were open for business today. Meanwhile fire officials and police from Burlington and Camden Counties are working to solve this one. Other dealerships tell Action News that they are ramping up security. At least one dealership hit over the weekend had surveillance video that was turned over to police.